Hallmark Hall of Fame and the End of 'Feel-Good' Television

Why the franchise's current troubles were inevitable

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After 60 years of churning out feel-good made-for-TV movies, the Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise is without a network. Variety reports that CBS has ended its 16-year partnership with Hallmark, putting the franchise's brand of schmaltzy, sentimental fare in limbo. This should hardly come as a surprise.

For years, the Hallmark Hall of Fame has been an oddity of the network television world. The warm and inspirational flicks are scheduled three times a year prior to Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. They are broadcast with limited commercial interruption (save for the occasional greeting-card advertisement) and play to a predominantly female audience. What mostly makes the franchise standout is its lineup of cloying mini-dramas in the landscape of violence, sex and reality television that is broadcast television. Some of its recent editions include The Lost Valentine: "A young and cynical female journalist learns love may transcend trials and time as she discovers a story that will change her life forever..." Or November Christmas: "A young father asks for pumpkins at the local farm stand... The farmer ruminates on the odd request and gets involved with strangers for the first time since his son's death long ago." The list goes on and on and it's really just not a fair fight.

As recently as last month, the Hallmark Hall of Fame was praised as "the gold standard" of family values television by conservative Townhall columnist Cal Thomas. So it's current troubles may bring about partisan griping about Hollywood's institutional liberalism or callous disregard for families. But a perusal of popular "red state" shows like 24, CSI or Walker Texas Ranger show that violence and gore are a bipartisan pastime. Jon Stewart probably put it best in his plea for President Obama to release the bin Laden death photo. “Too gory?” Stewart asked. “Yeah, have you met us?”

“From 8 p.m. on, every show on television we watch begins with an internal tracking shot of a gaping wound above someone’s left eye, pulling out only to reveal half a hooker in a dumpster discovered by a child on a bicycle," he said. "You know what we call it? Primetime.”

So, the Hallmark Hall of Fame is in trouble. But seriously, look at this stuff. It never had a chance:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.